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Originally published on Agri-Pulse by Steve Davies at 11/29/23 6:20 AM

Bayer is sticking to its legal strategy of trying individual Roundup cases in court, even as a series ofrecent losses has some investors and plaintiffs’ lawyers questioning the wisdom of that approach.After nine victories in a row in trial courts, Bayer has lost four straight cases, the latest a whopping$1.56 billion jury verdict out of state court in Missouri . In that case, three plaintiffs claimed exposure to Bayer’sRoundup herbicide caused their cancer, and the jury concluded the company failed to adequately warn them of the product’s dangers.“This is the fourth consecutive trial verdict in favor of injured Roundup plaintiffs in as many weeksand signals a massive turning of the tides in the overall litigation,” the law firm Forrest Weldon inDallas, Texas, said following the verdict.“Plaintiffs have been awarded $1.25 million, $175 million, and $332 million respectively in those other litigations,” said the firm, which represents three plaintiffs in the case, each of whom was awarded $500 million in punitive damages.Bayer’s share price has dropped more than 22% over the past month and closed trading Tuesday at $8.35 per share — near its 52-week low .Bayer settled more than 100,000 cases in 2020 for about $11 billion but still faces some 47,000 claims, a spokesperson said.The company, which bought Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion , has said it will stay the course. In an earnings call held before the most re-cent, billion-dollar verdict was in, Chief Financial Officer Wolfgang Nickl said while the company obviously doesn’t like to lose, “We did not expect [to] win every case.”

He said the $1.25 million award in the Missouri case that broke the winning streak, which was made up of compensatory damages only, would not “remotely” cover the plaintiff’s costs, “so that’s not going to be a strong incentive to keep going.”

The attorney in that case, however, told Courtroom View Network that the verdict was significant because Bayer had not offered any money to settle.

“The tide is turning back as we gain more knowledge about the tobacco-company style defense of Monsanto,” attorney T. Roe Frazer II of Frazer Law said.

Bayer, however, appears determined to stay the course.

“Our strategy — and I won’t go into a lot of the details — is really continuing to [keep] pointing outthe science to the juries in the various courtrooms,” Nickl said. He also mentioned the recent decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals finding California’s cancer warning label for Roundup was unconstitutional.

That’s a very, very strong signal,” Nickl said.

Bayer issued a statement after the $1.56 billion verdict in Missouri , voicing its intention to appeal and addressing the four losses.

“We have strong arguments to get the recent unfounded verdicts overturned and the excessive and unconstitutional damages eliminated or greatly reduced,” the company said. “Damages weregreatly reduced in the three early trials the company lost.”

In those cases, which received wide publicity, juries returned awards of about $2.4 billion. On ap-peal, however, those awards were drastically reduced, leaving the plaintiffs with $132.57 million.

The recent headlines have caused some investors to shudder. Institutional investor UnionInvestment in Frankfurt, Germany, called on Bayer earlier this month to rethink its legal strategy.

“Bayer should review its strategy again now to avoid further negative headlines,” Markus Manns, a senior portfolio manager for German firm Union Investment, told Reuters after the first three losses following the winning streak.

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